Top Red, White and Blue Flowers For The Summer Garden

For many Americans, the 4th of July is a time for celebration. But for gardeners, the fireworks start early. That’s because by mid June, spring pastels are already giving way to bright colors as red, white and blue flowers begin lighting up the summer garden.

RED FLOWERS STIR EMOTIONS

On the color spectrum, red is the most attention-grabbing of colors. In China, it is a symbol of prosperity and good luck, while on Wall Street ‘in the red’ means you’re losing money. And on the American flag, the red stripes symbolize ‘hardiness and valor.’

Hybrid tea rose

In the summer garden, red flowers make a bold statement, too, especially when framed by red’s complementary color, green. Looking for drama? Try grouping red flowers in front of an evergreen hedge for a big impact.

red roses and green hedge

Red roses and green hedge

 Or, combine them with other hot colors for an eye-catching composition. 

Too many red flowers? You can cool things down by pairing them with silver. 

red salvia and silver ragwort

Red salvia and silver ragwort

And just like the stripes on the flag, white flowers offer a crisp contrast to all shades of red.

Here are some of the best red flowers for your summer garden. 

Red-Flowering Shrubs

Quince ‘Double Take ‘Scarlet’

Crimson bottlebrush, Callistemon citrinus

Stewartstonian azalea

‘Mister Lincoln’ Hybrid Tea Rose

Red-Flowering Perennials

Begonia ‘Dragon’s Blood’

Geranium ‘Americana Red’

Dahlia ‘Bishop of llandaff’

Daylily ‘Always Afternoon’

Asiatic lily (red)

Gaillardia ‘Spin Top Orange Halo’

WHITE FLOWERS ARE THE ESSENCE OF LIGHT

The purest of all colors in terms of composition, white is considered by most cultures to represent goodness and light. It can also indicate cleanliness and perfection. On the American flag, the white stripes signify purity and innocence.

White hydrangea

In the summer garden, white has a certain innocent quality, too. Since white flowers reflect light, they instantly brighten key areas of the garden. They also help highlight other colors. 

Below, Echinacea ‘White Swan’ brightens a mixed border.

Drift of white echinacea

Some gardeners go all out and create an all-white garden. (The great thing about white flowers, by the way, is that they look especially good at night.)

Garden composed of all white flowers and silver foliage.

Here are some of the best and brightest white flowers for the summer garden:

White-Flowering Shrubs

Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’

Mock Orange ‘Snow White Sensation’

Azalea ‘Delaware Valley White’

Rose ‘Boule de Neige’

White-Flowering Perennials

Phlox paniculata ‘David’

Iris germanica ‘Immortality’

Allium ‘Mount Everest’

Echinacea ‘Pow Wow White’

Anemone ‘Honorine Jobert’

Physostegia virginiana ‘Crystal Peak White’

BLUE FLOWERS COOL THINGS DOWN

Blue is found at the other end of the color spectrum from red. It is considered the hardest color to see. For this reason, it is known as a cool color. On the American flag, blue is the color of the Chief and signifies vigilance, perseverance and justice.

Himalayan blue poppy

The thing about blue is that it appears to recede (notice how the blue section of the flag seems less intense than the red.) Because of this quality, it can add depth and volume to a garden composition. The only problem with blue flowers is that there aren’t many that are actually blue. Most are tinged with lavender or purple.

Here are the truest blue flowers I’ve found to date for the summer garden:

Blue-Flowering Shrubs

Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Nikko Blue’

‘Bluebird’ lacecap hydrangea

Caryopteris ‘Longwood Blue’

Blue-Flowering Perennials

Blue coleus, also know as bush coleus

Gentian Sage, Salvia patens 

Lewis flax, Linum lewisii

Blue Daisy

Muscari aucheri ‘Blue Magic’

Mostly blue with lavender tinge

Hidcote Blue English Lavender

Veronica spicata ‘Royal Candles’

Russian sage, Perovskia

Catmint, Nepeta

Wishing you all a very Happy Fourth of July!

 

 

Finding Your Center on the Labyrinth Path

Sometimes life can seem like a maze, full of twists and turns and lots of dead ends. It’s not always clear how to approach the center. But for those willing to walk its cousin, the labyrinth, there can be true transformation. Some say the process ultimately leads to insights into the circuitous path of life itself. Continue reading

Eating Mushrooms: The Health Benefits Of Fungi

lingzi cover

I’ve been doing mushrooms for years. And it’s changed my life. My mushroom of choice is reishi,  which I drink in tea-form every morning. But reishi isn’t the only fungi with the potential for improving human health. Many mushrooms, molds and lichens are loaded with immune-enhancing, antimicrobial and antioxidant properties, making them some of the most potent forms of natural medicine on earth. Continue reading

Identify Plants In A Snap With These 6 Top Apps

 What's That Flower app

Now that we’re all spending more time at home, it doesn’t hurt to know what’s blooming. And finding the answer is easier than ever with one of the dozens of plant identification apps available. But which ones work best and provide the fastest, most reliable material? I decided to do a comparison. Continue reading

Gardening For Troubled Times

‘It was an uncertain spring.’ – Virginia Wolf, The Years

In times of trouble, I often turn to Voltaire’s Candide to help put things in perspective. In this classic satire, Candide and his companions undergo unspeakable hardships only to find themselves in the end alone, together. Faced with a new normal, Candide arrives at the only sensible conclusion.  “We must cultivate our garden,” he says. Continue reading

When To Cut Back Daffodil Foliage

I know you don’t want to, but you must. You must wait to cut back your daffodil foliage until it yellows. Removing leaves prematurely may neaten things up, but come spring you’ll have far fewer flowers. And everyone knows daffodils look best in big numbers. Continue reading

In Praise of Redbud

redbud tree and green bench

I always smile when the redbuds begin blossoming in my area. Flowering with reckless abandon, the magenta-colored trees instantly distinguish themselves from other plants in the landscape. One of my friends shouts out REDBUD! when her own dazzling specimen bursts into bloom. That seems to me the perfect way to describe the electric flowering of this upbeat, ornamental tree. Continue reading

The Tiny Frog World of the Northern Spring Peeper

These days, even the smallest things can take on greater significance. Like many of you, I’ve been in quarantine for weeks now, except to take occasional walks outdoors. And so it happened that last week, while hiking along Maryland’s C & O canal, I encountered a high-pitched sound. The single, repeated note seemed to be emanating from the forest. Continue reading

10 Edible Flowers You Can Grow In Your Garden

edible flowers in salad

You really can have your flowers and eat them, too. So says Melissa Siegel, Master Gardener, gifted chef and local expert on edible flowers. I recently attended one of her lectures to learn more about this budding field. Continue reading

Philadelphia Flower Show 2020 Presents A Riviera Holiday

Tired of the cold? I recommend attending the Philadelphia Flower Show, where spring is always in season. The week-long exhibition offers a welcome break to the winter-weary, while providing endless inspiration for the garden. We recently joined an enthusiastic crowd for a little ‘Riviera holiday’, while soaking in the sights, colors and smells of the French Mediterranean. Continue reading

Daffodil Bulb Care: The Top 5 Things You Need To Know

Recently my email box has been overflowing with questions from readers worried about the unusually warm winter we’ve been experiencing. Many of the questions center on daffodils, in particular, what to do with unruly bulbs. In replying, I first spoke with a few of my local nursery experts to gain their opinion. Following are five of my readers’ top concerns about daffodil bulbs and what to do about them. Continue reading